Meridian Acquires Sooloos

Meridian Audio Ltd. announced at 4pm December 5 that it had acquired media server manufacturer Sooloos LLC. "Basically, it comes from [Meridian founder] Bob Stuart's appreciation of great industrial design and innovative technologies," said Meridian's Chief Marketing Officer Graeme Taylor. "That combination is what Meridian has always attempted to offer and when Bob saw Sooloos' products, he realized that Peter Wellikoff [COO], Enno Vandermeer [CEO], and Danny Dulai [CTO] shared those values. Over time, it became obvious that, between what we shared and what we each could offer each other, the acquisition made tremendous sense."

The Sooloos Media Server System was Stereophile's 2008 Product of the Year, it was the subject of the longest review ever published in Stereophile, primarily because it is such a comprehensive package—unlike many other servers, the Sooloos is a semi-closed system where the software is tightly controlled by the company. However the consumer can substitute OEM hard-drives, touchscreens, or PDA controllers. The payoff, according to reviewer Jon Iverson, is the best software/hardware solution for access to your music library.

"Meridian has always tried to offer its consumers a product that was truly finished," said Taylor. "That Sooloos had set the bar so high—raised it, really—was something we really appreciated. And we thought some of our technology, not to mention capital, could actually enhance what was already a superb product."

While Meridian gets an entrée into the media server market, what Sooloos gets out of the deal is the support structure of a much larger organization, including marketing and distribution channels. Meridian will examine existing Meridian and Sooloos dealerships and choose the best of each to offer the joint brand. The Sooloos hardware will continue to be manufactured by its current vendor.

Sooloos' executive team remains in place: Wellikoff, Vandemeer, Dulai, and Sandro Pugliese (VP, Business Development). All current Sooloos products will retain the Sooloos brand and future products will be co-branded Meridian Sooloos. Research and development will be consolidated into a "global team responsible to Bob Stuart in Cambridge."

This bold move caught a room full of audio press by surprise, but it makes sense. Meridian acquires an foothold in the media server market, an area it obviously considers vital, and Sooloos instantly benefits from acquiring a tech-savvy partner—and Bob Stuart. What digital company wouldn't want that?